Monday, May 23, 2011

On Faith

Two of the cardinal rules of a happy internet existence are these: Never talk politics and never talk religion. (Also never click on unknown links. Also never do a google image search without turning on the filters. Also spelling still counts.)

But increasingly it seems that the Never Talk Religion rule only applies to those of us who are quietly and devoutly religious. Those who aren't have free reign to criticize, to mock, and to otherwise devalue faith. (Which isn't to say the majority does this--it's a vocal minority, of course, since I believe most people are thoughtful and respectful.) (And of course you have those that are militantly religious and devote whole websites to spreading vitriol and condemning others, which, I'm not quite sure which Christianity they believe in, because it's not mine.) (And, again, not to say that Christianity is the only religion that has this type of polarizing effect.) (You see why this is hard? SO MANY DISCLAIMERS. I should have a lawyer write it up.)

I've been noticing more issues of faith and religion in YA. A book I read that did it very well is Rae Carson's GIRL OF FIRE AND THORNS. The main character has a life deeply rooted in faith. Everyone around her believes in the same religion to varying degrees (some will kill for it, some dismiss it as merely their cultural heritage). When she finds out that some of the things she was taught aren't doctrinal and when some of her prayers are not answered the way she feels they should be, she questions her relationship to the religion. But her faith, that core thing that drives her, remains an active and vivid part of her life. I loved that aspect of the book. I thought it was so balanced and well-done because it was as complex and difficult as it should have been. No one was "good" or "bad." There was no scapegoat, no simplified, easy blame. Religious characters were neither malicious enforcers nor mindless sheep.

Too often religious people are thrown in for an easy villain. See how narrow-minded they are! See how they are willing to go against their own beliefs in the name of making other people believe them!  Or people who are religious are naive and trusting to the point of sheer idiocy. "Well, sure, bad things are happening and the only logical explanation is that it's our leader, but I have faith! It must be something else!"

As a person of faith, I find both insulting. I don't mindlessly follow what my religion teaches. I study it. I understand it. I decide for myself what to believe and what to act on. Yes, some people use religion to manipulate and control. It happens, absolutely. But give me a reason why in the book other than that it's an easy storytelling choice. Carrie Ryan's THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH is an example of when this works. The religious establishment in the novel was made for survival. The choices of the leaders made sense in context, even if they weren't right and the main character disagreed with them. It didn't feel like scapegoating or lazy storytelling. Terry Pratchett's NATION ultimately comes down against organized religion, but it does so in a thoughtful and respectful manner. It recognizes, like Ryan's book, that there are no easy answers.

It's a hard balance to find. I'll admit that the difference between a book that addresses these issues and works and one that doesn't is often impossible to define. (And I've yet to touch religion in my writing because it terrifies me--too many ways to mess it up!) But I think it comes down to respect. Respect for people and their choices. Respect for those who choose faith even if you disagree with it. Respect for those who don't choose faith even if you do.

Religion does not make anyone inherently better or worse than anyone else, just like atheism or agnosticism. It's what you do with what you choose to believe, it's the person you let it shape you into, it's your choices--your informed, intelligent, compassionate choices. Both in real life and in stories, look beyond the "easy" assumptions. Go deeper.

I go to church for three hours every Sunday. I study the scriptures daily. Prayer is a part of my life. My faith has shaped the person I am, and I honestly don't think I'd be a storyteller without it. I'm glad I was raised with it, but I still choose to believe, choose to have faith, choose to act on that faith. It's an active choice, one that I constantly work on and think about and decide for myself.

I don't care what you choose, as long as you use the life you are given (regardless of where you think that life came from or whether you think there's anything after) in the best way you can. I respect the choices and beliefs of those around me, and I hope that reflects in my writing. Please don't make uninformed, stereotyped decisions, or group everyone into categories based on what you think of one part of them. That's bigotry, plain and simple, whether it's based on religion, race, sexuality, or gender. Do me the honor of looking beyond my specific belief system to the person I am and what I do with it.

I'll do the same for you.

86 comments:

Valerie Kemp said...

This is an excellent post and your willingness to talk about these things and your unwillingness to lump people together or dismiss them for being different from you are some of the biggest reason I follow you. (Also, you are very, very funny and write awesome books.) Great post!

Marianne said...

This is brilliant. I agree. I find that I am unsure if my characters should drink alcohol or if I should just be vague so that I reach out to more people or if I really care if I do. There is so much religious fiction that I don't like, that I think I find myself just being vague.

NiaRaie said...

A most excellent post!

Becky Wallace said...

There is little else that I can add. Thanks for saying what I've been thinking.

Ru said...

I totally agree on the respect aspect. I think the majority of readers can tell by the tone of a book (or movie, or tv show, or whatever) whether or not the writer has respect or condescension for his or her characters.

And I'll add one other thing - fairness. It's fine to criticize religion or aspects of religion, religious people and their quirks, etc. if it's done in an even-handed manner. I don't know how to better explain this, but the fact is humans (and institutions run by humans) are quirky creations, and if you want to mock us all, have at it. But don't pick and choose what you find ridiculous. I can have a good sense of humor about the oddities of my beliefs (religious and otherwise) if you can too, but no one likes feeling like they're being ganged up on.

("You" in above paragraph = everyone, not Kiersten. I know that's probably obvious, but she's right ... religion and politics can be tricky topics on the internet ...)

Emily said...

Beautifully written. As a person of faith and a person who respects others, you took the words right out of my mouth. Thank you. And thank you for emphasizing that we're not all the same, and RESPECT is way more important than some other things sometimes.

Now I have to go add all those books to my library list.

Kiersten White said...

Ru--See, that's why I don't have any issues with the South Park guys. Sure, they make fun of Mormons, but they make fun of everyone else, too. Equal opportunity mockery!

Daisy Whitney said...

I'm behind you cheering KW! I agree. Belief systems to some degree inform my next novel, and it is indeed a delicate balance fitting that stuff in. But it's part of who we are as people.

twimom101 said...

"I don't mindlessly follow what my religion teaches. I study it. I understand it. I decide for myself what to believe and what to act on." <---great quote here! what a awesome post!

Chantele Sedgwick said...

Well said, Kiersten. :)

heidikins said...

I don't talk about God or politics on my blog, ever. Mostly because they are such hot button issues in Internet land, and so many people are so narrow-minded in their condescending comments about opinions on God or politics that do not agree with their own. It's risky business, talking about God and/or politics.

Thank you for writing this!
xox

Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Good post. I ditto it. I'm tired of people making assumptions on a group of people based entirely off of just a handful of examples. This is something I have been dealing with for years and it has taken years to 'prove' myself to people who I should be very close to because of their ignorant beliefs of people in my faith. (And for the record, they finally admitted they were wrong. Even after all the nice things I tried to do for them, for years they thought there was something evil and malicious behind those actions. LOL). It's sad we have missed out on so much over the years because of prejudice.

But this is also a good reminder to me. I may think I'm perfectly respectful and understanding, charitable, of others, but we can ALL do better. Myself very much included.

Annette Lyon said...

*standing ovation*

Your South Park comment is right on too. It's the same reason I found it funny rather than offensive when House was constantly picking on a Mormon character that was on the show for a few episodes. EVERYONE in the show gets picked on by House. Of course the guy's religion made him an easy target. But it wasn't any meaner than his regular jibes at anyone else.

(Did I mention *standing ovation*?)

Lauren said...

As if I need another reason to adore you.

Wonderful post, Kiersten. Everything was said beautifully and thoughtfully. It's a touchy subject, but your message is perfectly delivered.

Nellee Horne said...

I totally agree! I'm a Christian but a very moderate one. I don't treat people bad because they are gay, etc. even if it goes against my religion. I hate it when people mistake talking about God to trying to push God on others who don't believe. Which is why people shouldn't give bad reviews to books that just "mention" God. For some reason, in this society, you can pray to and talk about Allah and Budda in public but not God. No, that would be offensive to others of different beliefs :P

ellen said...

Respect is truly the magic word. I always wonder what it's like to be religious in America as it seems like a country with many religious people. In Sweden it is very easy to divide people into the two groups: "not religious" and "stupid brainwashed people".
I grew up in a religious home (what religion doesn't matter) but left the religion as an adult. My mother often asks if I feel like I missed out because of how I grew up, but I feel like I benefited from it. It taught me about respect and how easy it is to judge a person solely on the basis of their faith or lack thereof. I lost "friends" who didn't want to talk to me once I told them about my religion. But I have also met wonderful people who just didn't care what I did or did not believe. I have heard lies being spread about "us". But it taught me not to believe everything I'm told.

Wow, I'm ranting, sorry. I just think that religious people are such an easy target because they were taught to "turn the other cheek". I just wish people could respect one another and realise that one's religion doesn't really impact their true personalities more then their haircolor does.

Faith King said...

Your "disclaimer" paragraph made me chuckle, because when I occasionally forget myself and break Cardinal Rule #1 I usually end up with a three-day stress recovery period from the flaming reply I get from someone who found a chink somewhere in my carefully-mortared wall of disclaimers.

I like the "quietly and devoutly" religions description. I'm not built for debate (as opposed to those people who clearly love it) so I sometimes feel like the 'light' of my religious conviction is being sequestered away in cowardice. I try to remind myself that extremists are the minority, on both sides of the fence, and that I have a lot more good experiences with people all across the religious spectrum than bad. It's just that the bad experiences are so potent. I wish it was the other way around.

Kristan said...

Last 2 paragraphs of this post? Brilliant.

(Well, last 1 paragraph and 1 sentence. But you know what I mean.)

Nicole Zoltack said...

st! Very well said. I am a firm believer but I would never push my faith on anyone else. I wish to receive the same courtesy back.

Kasie West said...

I always wondered how I could say what you just said in a non-offensive way. Now I know how. :) Great post. So true.

Marsha Sigman said...

To each their own. We live in a country that allows us the freedom to choose any path we wish when it comes to religion, even the choice not to choose any of them.

I don't talk about either one of those topics and I'm not going to start now.
Except for mentioning the world was scheduled to end on Saturday, couldn't help myself with that one.

Carradee said...

*applaud*

I've noticed that anyone who believes an "unpopular" opinion gets ridiculed and harassed if they dare voice that opinion, particularly in regards to religion. I don't mock others. But I've even been ridiculed by college professors.

The stereotypes are terrible.

Why is it, when I think a popular belief is wrong, I'm intolerant, but when an adherent of a popular belief thinks I'm wrong, they're offended?

Cecelia said...

Thanks for sharing, Kiersten.

Josh Sexton said...

Very intruiging. Thanks for yet another reason why I keep promoting Paranormalcy and Supernaturally to the teens I work with. It is awesome to see such a well-balanced approach to religion. Thanks for being awesome!

Roy Hayward said...

I was raised in the mid-west. And the "don't talk about politics or religion" was a cultural norm growing up. However I spent 7 of the last 10 years living in the southern-eastern states. That rule really doesn't seem to apply there. Everyone that I worked with talked openly and constantly about their faith. It was actually quite liberating.

I didn't convert to the Baptists. They are nice people. I still have many friends living there. I was unexpected to me that I could have that frequent of religious discussions without losing friends.

My religion and my writing are a place that I struggle with as well. I write fiction, (hobby so far) but where does religion fit into the lives of my characters? I try to do what Marianne does. Keep it vague. But sometimes this is a difficult line to walk.

I don't want to be that "Mormon" writer. But I don't want people to be surprised when they find out either.

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

excellent post

Dominique said...

Fantastic post.

I always worry about religion in my books. I'm not a deeply religious person, and generally my characters aren't either; but I have written some characters who are deeply religious and for whom religion is a huge life force. I always try to tread carefully there, as I want to fairly represent their religion but also create a character non-religious people can relate to. It's very tricky.

fakesteph said...

Thank you so much for this post!

Ashley @ Book Labyrinth said...

Thanks for posting this. I completely agree. Religion seems like such a hot button issue, and I can understand why... it's personal, and everyone has different opinions and beliefs. But I've been thinking about this issue for a long time. How it's "okay" for people to make fun of believers and condemn them for being foolish or ridiculous, yet it's not "okay" for people to talk about believing in God. Like somehow anyone who does believe and tries to live their life accordingly is just so Backwards and Wrong. It almost makes me laugh that these supposedly liberal people promote freedom and choice, except, apparently, when it comes to faith. I am so much more than my beliefs, yet my beliefs also make up who I am. Amen to respecting choices and sharing your beliefs -- not condemning others for theirs.

Tracey Neithercott said...

Amen! This post says everything I've been thinking. It's sad that the only Christians in books are smothering, overly preachy, or fanatical in their views.

The last two paragraphs are spot-on.

Pk Hrezo said...

Here here! Thanks for sharing your faith with us. I always find it encouraging. :)

Jessi E. (The Elliott Review) said...

Thank you for this post. I hate when anyone is stereotyped but especially people of faith. I don't appreciate everyone who believes being lumped into the same category as those who do not examine their faith in a vital way. As JKR said, "I don't take responsibility for the lunatic fringes of my religion."

The Story Queen said...

Thank you so much for writing this post. It meant a lot to me and brings up things that I've been thinking about a lot lately.

Thank you.

darkerthanex said...

Can I just say I agree? to it all?

You worded it really well. Thanks for that. I learned living in Los Angeles that the only acceptable Christian characters in TV/Film were African-American (gospel and the like) and Catholic. Everything else was confusing and avoided. I'd, as a writer, would really like to change that perception.

I look forward to reading your books. They're on my ridiculously long 'to read' list. :)

Dree said...

Thank you. I am an atheist, and my parents are agnostics, though they were raised in religious families. Though I do not believe in God, there are many people who do, and I respect their right to believe what they want. My best friend is deeply religious. However, it bothers me when people try to shove their religion on me. My grandmother is always trying to do this, and though I love her, I hate that she won't respect what I believe as I do for her.

Sienna said...

I am a Catholic. I have complete faith in my religion. I also disagree with the Vatican's stance on gay marriage. That is EXACTLY why I've loved the books you mentioned; I could connect with them so strongly. You put my feeling into into words when I couldn't. This post means a lot to me, Kiersten, and I applaud you for speaking up in such a thoughtful, eloquent and inspiring way. I want people who call religion "mindless" and "ignorant" to see this and read these comments. Thank you!

Beth @ To the Fullest said...

THANK YOU for writing this. Brilliant.

Caroline Starr Rose said...

Yes, yes, yes and thank you, thank you, thank you.

Scoot said...

Excellent post! Thanks for sharing. :)

geekyreads said...

What an amazing post! You hit the nail on the head. It's all about respect.

Angela Felsted said...

Kiersten, your timing is amazing! Did you read the review I wrote on Goodreads of a certain *ahem* "verse novel" I picked up at the library?

Can't tell you how many days it's taken me to get over that one.

Faith Pray said...

Thank you for your thoughtful approach to a very touchy subject. Excellent post!

Jordanne said...

I loved reading this! I hate it when anything is stereotyped, especially religion. I have all different kinds of friends with all different types of religions ranging from hindu to islam to wiccan. I myself wasn't raised on a specific religion because my mom was raised strictly church of christ and she didn't like it...and I'm constantly telling my dad that you can both accept and respect other people's religions. He only believes in acepting them, and has little to no respect for any of them. I loved the part about living the life we are given in the best way we can. So true, and something I hold dear to my heart. Thank you!

Anita Saxena said...

Very well said.

kathrynleighaz said...

I really like this post. I know other people have commented on it already, but I like how you emphasized respect. So much of the time, the world emphasizes tolerance, but that allows room for begrudging, belittling and resenting others. Respect requires more of us, which I love. It requires us to dig deeper into our own faith/beliefs and into truly knowing and understanding others.

Rachel Pudelek said...

I love how you said, "Religious characters were neither malicious enforcers nor mindless sheep." That seems to be the common characters they play in books -both Christian and general market.

I assume you felt you had to post this because things were being said about you due to your religion? Ah, that scares the tar out of me! I wrote a Christian fiction, and am currently working on a general YA fiction. I do not look forward to the day when religious people criticize me for writing for the general market and the non-religious people criticize me for writing for the Christian market.

I'm sorry though if you've been hurt or talked about by others due to your religion.

Just Your Typical Book Blog said...

THANK YOU for this post! Nothing annoys me more when reading a book or watching a movie where the Christian kid is basically just mocked and acts like an insane narrow-minded nut. It is very insulting.

rockinlibrarian said...

Just want to add my "YES!!!!!!!!" of support. It's amazingly sad how little people seem to realize any of this, as they tear each other down.

(I just started following your blog a few days ago, and this convinces me more than ever that this was a good move!)

Olivia Carter said...

Amen! Thanks for verbalizing my exact feelings so well!

Kiersten White said...

For the record, I have never endured personal attacks for my beliefs. I've found my readers to be incredibly generous and kind, and no one seems to much care what I personally believe. Which is wonderful! I feel so fortunate to have associations both with people I know and people on the internet who seem to be unfailingly kind and supportive.

This was triggered by a lot of talk I've seen around the internet and also some books I read recently that bothered me in their treatment of religion.

Okay, and that one jerk on twitter who was saying anyone who is religious is an ignorant idiot. Which really only made him look like an ignorant idiot.

Brianna Hart said...

Amen sister!

Kristin Rae said...

Great post! Thanks :)

There is so much ignorance floating around these days, and I've definitely read some books that have made me cringe. I'll take a look at the books you suggest that handle the religion topic well.

Kailia Sage said...

Great post! I live in a place where the majority of the people are Christian and I'ma Hindu. I respect all of them (I'm interested in learning about their beliefs) but a lot can't understand why I'm not a Christian. That bugs me a lot and makes me sad that they can't be more open minded and accepting. So, thank you for this post!

Dennis said...

Keirsten, brave and well-reasoned. You've inspired me to tackle this on my own blog. I'll post a link once it's up. For the record, the unwritten rule for Navy officer wardrooms (the place on ship where meals are served) is just that - no politics, no religion. But it begs the question: when is it ok once you leave the wardroom (read also internet community)?

Thanks,
Dennis

Anthony said...

Kiersten,

I totally understand how you feel.

While I dig your message, I believe you are trying to push the tide away with your hands. Until more authors, as you did, take a public stand against bigotry and its root causes (such as elitism), this problem will drag and linger.

Ultimately it is self-correcting as people, empowered with great ways to find what they are looking for over the intertubes, spending less and less of their hard-earned money on vapid and morally bankrupt literature and more on something reflective of their values, and, ultimately, more entertaining.

Brad Jaeger said...

I mostly agree. I don't care what people's beliefs are; even if it is something I do not support or find downright silly I'm all in favour of them expressing their ideology. Whatever helps them sleep at night.

That being said, the institution that is "religion" is not sacred, and I have no qualms with attacking that.

Much as some denominations may "hate the sin, not the sinner", I hate the religion, not the religious. I will only speak out against specific religious individuals if their beliefs have influenced them to reduce another's personal liberties (ie, insulting the ridiculous claims by Catholic bishops that condoms are not an effective means of birth control, etc...)

Great post Kiersten :)

Brodi Ashton said...

Yes. That is all I have to say. Yes.

Deana said...

If I was a bettin' woman...which I'm not because I'm LDS...I'd say you were too:)
I adored this post! Thanks for having the courage to say what I think so many of us feel in the blogosphere!

Katrina L. Lantz said...

Thank you for saying it so well.

I love your blog.

Whirlochre said...

Religion and politics are both areas where the diversity of mankind can lead to division and I understand the difficulty for writers.

In order for your stuff not to be fluffy and vacuous, you have to confront "issues" but unless you have good reason to deal with religion and politics, I agree you have to leave well alone.

Plus — not many laughs in zealotry and bigotry.

Nathary said...

What a coincidence!

I just watched a movie about a girl who was stoned to death because people thought she was a witch, but in fact, she was a philosopher, all she said was, "You don't question what you believe in, but I must."

Before her moment of death, the empire persuaded her to confess to God and ask for His forgiveness, but she didn't. So they ripped her naked and stoned her. At that point, I thought even Jesus would cry.

As I'm taking the Comparative Religions course after Philosophy, it always challenges me to think rather than tells me what to believe. Well, I'm not a Christian or a Muslim, I'm a Buddhist, but I love Jesus and Mohammad as much as I love Buddha, I just think that God is just too big for one religion. But today people have too many rules but not enough ethics. *Sigh*

Beth said...

So you're a christian? or a mormon? what?

Kiersten White said...

Beth--The two are not mutually exclusive. The official name of my church is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Colloquially known as Mormons. But this isn't about my faith in particular.

Beth said...

Yes, sorry I probably should have said this first, but I really like your post. The word religion can be annoying and so touchy. Like what you said, religious people are sometimes thought of like pharisees.
I was just wondering. Doesn't matter what name you give it.

Kiersten White said...

Beth-- : ) I agree.

Donna Gambale said...

Hey Kiersten - I really respect this post and am very glad you wrote it! I loathe leaving links in a comment, but all of my thoughts on religion/faith (and the lack thereof) in YA are condensed into a post I wrote around the holidays a couple years ago -- but what I think you'll really find interesting is the discussion that ensued in the comments!

http://www.firstnovelsclub.com/2009/12/oh-my-god-religion-in-ya-tis-season.html

I also mentioned THE FOREST OF HANDS AND TEETH, as well as a couple other YA/MG titles that stood out to me, and people gave me excellent suggestions in the comments that you may want to check out!

Angella said...

I'm so glad that Heidi introduced us and sent me to this post because, YES.

A big, hearty AMEN.

Litzalou said...

You seriously took the words out of my mouth. Thank you for putting so eloquently what I've been trying to say for years!

Sean Wills said...

I think a lot of the negative backlash from discussing religion comes when people - entirely well-meaning, in a lot of cases - tip their hands and reveal some of the prejudices that tend to be associated with religious belief. (Emphasis on 'tend to', obviously.)

I remember one case where an author (I can't remember which one) made a post about her religious belief and why it was so important to her. So far, so completely uncontroversial, until she got to the end of the post and said that she disagreed with 'certain lifestyles' but (of course) still respected people who 'followed that lifestyle' - to paraphrase. Needless to say, people worked out pretty quickly that she was talking about homosexuality. The backlash in this case came from her apparent homophobia, not from the fact that she simply stated that she was religious.

That's been my take on it, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Rebecca said...

Great post!

I'm not crazy about "talking about religion" on my blog, but Jesus is such an integral part of my life that it's gonna come up now and then. Just the way it is.

Wren said...

Excellent. Thank you for speaking for so many. That's what a good writer does best.

Kristen said...

Kudos! Wonderful post.

Michelle Wolfson said...

How often do I write: just one more reason why I love you, Kiersten.
Apparently not often enough. Beautifully put. And just one more reason why I love you. :)

Madeleine said...

Oh, Kiersten, this is gorgeous. You've expressed many of my feelings regarding this topic when I've been unable to.

THANK YOU.

I love that you said you are choosing to believe - actively choosing to believe - what you do. I've tried to tell others this in less articulate ways, and it's effect has always been disappointing. Thank you for giving a great example of how to explain my feelings!

-Madeleine

Marie said...

Oh Kiersten, I absolutely love this post. <3 It's all so true. Religion shouldn't ever make someone judge someone else differently. Good people are simply good people. And you are a good person all the way through.

Jessica said...

Thank you for this post. I think it's important for people to know that thoughtful, curious, creative people like you who choose a life of faith are out there.

There are a vocal few who spread their crazy and hate "in the name of Jesus" and really leave a bad taste in people's mouths when it comes to religion. This post was a nice reminder that those people aren't representative of all religious people.

LinWash said...

Thanks for this post. I agree with you and applaud you.

Stray said...

Now I'm guessing that anyone who has doubts that a person of faith can be smart funny and basically not a mindless idiot can just come to your blog and they'll see that's not the case

Ishta Mercurio said...

"Both in real life and in stories, look beyond the "easy" assumptions. Go deeper."

This is wonderful, and it applies to everything, not just religion: eating disorders, antisocial behavior, character motivation (both positive and negative), political choices.

Excellent post.

twowritingteachers said...

Thanks for writing this. You should have an extra piece of chocolate. ;)
Ruth

Juju at Tales of Whimsy.com said...

Oh my. AMEN! SO SO SO well said.

Kate said...

Hey Kiersten! I love this post. I live in Utah, I'm a member of the LDS church. And since the majority of people here in Utah are LDS, people will talk about how unfair it is that people make fun of Mormons so much, but then sometimes a few of them will say stuff about other religions, and it just doesn't make since to me. People can dish it out but can't take it, they're hypocrites. No one should ever make fun of anyone, we're all different, everyone has their own way of thinking. I think we should all learn to except each other the way we are, no need to criticize, love everyone for who they are. You don't need to have everything in common with people to be their friend, just the smallest connection will do, then go from there and love one another's company.

Kate said...

Oh, and for the record, criticizing and good spirited jokes are completely two different things. I just don't believe in criticism, because criticism is a sign of ignorance and unwillingness to be understanding. Good spirited jokes I'm all for! I love to laugh! Laughing all the way! :) (Good spirited jokes are also different form "making fun of", but thats another topic for another time. . .

Paula said...

I try to give some faith component in my fantasy writings, which is relatively easy if not overdone. But in these worlds the faith is usually to my created deities (which I base on my own faith) or I keep it out all together. I believe my themes reveal my faith far more effectively than any specifics from my characters.
I'm wondering, though, if you've come across your faith history in interviews about your books? How do you (or do you plan to) handle questions about your faith in that venue? Sounds from this post you've got it figured out. Can you give specifics, though?

Katie Edwards said...

Hi, I just happened on this post by accident, but had to join in the people thanking you for writing it.

I've been noticing on TV the last few years how people with religious beliefs - and generally Christian, because I live in the UK and to insult a religion that isn't "our own" despite being only nominally a Christian country Just Wouldn't Be Cricket - are portrayed as nutters or hypocrites. Watching crime programmes, I automatically assume The Vicar Dunnit - and he so often did - or has some other deep dark secret. I think people have started to pick up on it lately - there's been a few complaints about the weeping angels/evil cat-nun-nurses and now headless monks as villains in Dr Who. Oh, and the Vicar Dunnit in one of them as well!

As a Christian and a writer, I sometimes struggle with reconciling the two aspects of my life. I don't tend to write "religious" characters, or have them discuss faith very much. Some of them act in ways that go against my beliefs. Is this a betrayal of sorts? It's a story!

Sorry for babbling on. Really interesting, well-written post. Thanks.